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Saint Bernardin of Siena


Bernardin, who is often called the Apostle of the Holy Name, was born of a noble family in the Republic of Siena, on September 8th, 1380. He grew up a good-looking lad, so merry and yet so devout that he was both loved and respected. He was never quick to anger, albeit from youth he was fearsome when moved to righteous indignation, but singularly patient and courteous withal. He became an orphan before the age of seven, and was so lovingly and carefully educated by his kinsfolk, that he became remarkable for his love of good works, prayer, the Blessed Virgin, and the poor. As time went on, that he might the more entirely give himself up to holy things, it was his will to enroll himself among those who worked in the Hospital of Saint Mary-of-the-Ladder, at Siena. There, when twelve to twenty persons died daily during the raging of a terrible plague, he laboured with marvellous charity and great physical effort, in serving the sick. Thus he came to manhood, in bodily presence a very goodly person, and with a mind and spirit well-trained. And he ever kept so holy a guard over his purity that no one, however shameless, dared to say an unseemly word in his presence.

As a result of his overwork in the hospital, he suffered a severe sickness. On his recovery, he began to think of embracing the religious life. To make his way sure, he built a little hut in the outskirts of the city, where he hid himself and led a life of hardships of all kinds, continuing instant in prayer to God to find what path he should follow, whereby he was moved to choose the Order of Saint Francis, which same had a novitiate in Siena. But when he found that he could get no surcease from the visits of his many friends, he asked to be transferred to a friary at some distance. Thus, after his profession of vows and ordination to the priesthood, when it was seen how he abounded with the graces of a religious man, and also with sacred learning, his superior laid on him the duty of preaching. This the Saint humbly accepted, and finding that his usefulness was much impaired by his having a shrill, harsh voice, implored the help of God, who was pleased, as if by a miracle, to free him from this drawback. From his homely eloquence and zeal, he attracted vast congregations; and his written vernacular sermons which have come down to us are so lively, fresh, and devout, even today, that they shew how well he merited his title of People's Preacher.

Those were times fruitful in vices and crimes; and the bloody civil wars which raged in Italy confounded all things divine and human. Bernardin went through the cities and towns, carrying the Name of Jesus; which Name he ever bore upon his lips and in his heart; and whereby he prevailed in great measure in setting up falling godliness and morality, and in stilling political brawls. In sign of which the monogram of Jesus (namely, I.H.S.) was everywhere set up, and from his propagation of it the same is a common symbol in our churches to this very day. During these many great works, he also laboured, with Saint John Capistrano to restore the spirit of poverty and penance to his Order, wherefrom along with this John, he is usually reckoned to be God's instrument in establishing the Franciscans of the Strict Observance in those days. But often he was bitterly assailed in his good works, being even haled before the Inquisition as a heretick; but concerning his persecutors he was wont to say: Never mind, they are only helping us toward eternal glory. In honour of his devotion to the Holy Name, the Feast thereof was instituted, the Office of which he composed. At last the man of God, after untold labours, the working of many and great wonders, and the writing of godly and learned books, in the sixty-seventh year of his age, at Aquila in the Abruzzi, rested in a blessed death, upon May 20th, 1444. As the fame of his holiness increased day by day, he was canonized within six years after his death, and the Franciscans venerate him as one of the Doctors of their Orders although he hath not this title from the Church.


O JESUS CHRIST, who didst endue blessed Bernardin, thy Confessor, with pre-eminent love of thy most holy Name: we beseech thee, that, by the virtue of his merits and intercession: thou wouldest graciously pour into our hearts the spirit of love towards thee. Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1219-1220

Additional Information:

Ordo Kalendars are available from the Anglican Parishes Association Book Publisher.

For additional readings, or to learn more about the Anglican Breviary, visit The Anglican Breviary Website.